James Tanner makes us a tasty aubergine dish that can be slightly adjusted to be completely suitable for vegetarians.
2 large aubergines
Cracked black pepper
3 diced banana shallots
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp tomato puree
50ml sherry vinegar
2 x 400g cans of whole plum tomatoes, drained
1/2 stick cinnamon
4 sprigs of picked thyme
4 tbsp onion relish
3 x 150g balls of sliced mozzarella
12 whole basil leaves
30g panko breadcrumbs
100g Parmesan (or vegetarian substitute)
1. Pre heat oven to 180°C/ 350°F/ gas mark 4.
2. Cut the aubergines into 1cm thick slices and brush both sides with olive oil and season. Heat a griddle pan or non stick frying pan to a medium heat and cook the aubergine slices until slightly coloured and tender turning occasionally, drain on kitchen paper.
3. Heat a large saucepan to a medium heat, add a splash of oil and add the chopped shallots. Cook, stirring with no colour for 2 minutes then add the garlic and tomato puree. Stir and cook for a further 2 minutes, add the vinegar and stir into the mixture cook for a further minute. Crush the drained tomatoes with a spoon and combine into the mixture.
4. Add the cinnamon stick and thyme leaves, lower the heat and cook stirring occasionally until thickened, for about 10 minutes.
5. Take a 30 x 20cm oven proof dish and add a few spoonfuls of your tomato sauce to the base, cover with aubergines and some of the onion relish. Add a layer of sliced mozzarella, ripped basil leaves and cracked black pepper. Repeat the layer of tomato sauce and repeat the process of layers, end up with a neatly layered dish with a top layer of tomato sauce. Mix together the bread crumbs and parmesan and scatter over the top.
6. Pop the dish into the pre heated oven and cook for 30 minutes until golden and bubbling remove and leave to stand for 5 minutes before serving, then dig in!